MANNY IS STILL HUNGRY
By Dong Secuya
Wed, 23 Oct 2013
GENERAL SANTOS – Circa 2005, after his loss to Morales that March, Pacquiao visited Cebu, and when he saw me, he told me “I will get revenge” saying those words loaded with grim determination and an emotional angst that you can feel to your bones.
That loss to Morales was Pacquiao's first loss in six years, also his second loss after a knockout defeat against Rustico Torrecampo earlier in his career. But most important, it was a loss that derailed 'The Destoyer, his moniker at that time, who told the American media to 'Line 'em up' after his earth-shaking knockout win against the legendary Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera in November, 2003.
Pacquiao later got his revenge, stopping Morales in the 10th round in January, 2006 and for good measure, knocking him out again in the 3rd round during their third fight in November the same year that clearly cemented Pacquiao's stature as one of elite fighters of the era.
Pacquiao then went on a tear, after defeating Barrera and Juan Manual Marquez in rematches, he overrun, like a freight train, a who's who in the welterweights: De La Hoya, Hatton, Cotto, Clottey, Margarito, Mosley. The feat had catapulted Pacquiao to the pinnacle of the boxing world, made him a crossover star and approached the status of all time great Muhammad Ali.
The historic run however, ended with an earth-shaking Marquez right hand that sent Pacquiao momentarily unconscious to the canvas in the final seconds of the 6th round during their 4th encounter at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in December last year.
Pacquiao absorbed his first legitimate loss after the Morales defeat. Things have greatly changed for the once poor boy of this southern Philippine city. Pacquiao was still a struggling boxer when he lost to Morales. In fact his purse for his super featherweight fight with Morales was his biggest at that point of his career. Now, with tens of millions of dollars in earnings plus millions of dollars more in endorsements and add to that his position as a congressman in the Philippines, Pacquiao has already lived a life of great comfort and influence.
Pacquiao at the Pacman Wildcard Gym in General Santos Tuesday.
This past few weeks, Pacquiao is back in training for his comeback fight against Mexican-American slugger Brandon Rios scheduled on November 24 in Macau, China, almost a year after that fateful day of December.
Does Pacquiao exhibit the same amount of determination and hunger, the same desire for revenge that he had exhibited right after the Morales loss?
“I would say so,” Roach replied as he watched intently his most prized boxer and pupil, whom he had transformed from a one-dimensional slugger into a terrifying fighting machine, doing the plyometrics routine this Tuesday's training at the Pacman Wildcard Gym in this city. Plyometrics is a back-breaking exercise designed to allow the muscles of the body exert maximum force in as short a time as possible with the goal of increasing both speed and power. Earlier, Roach was watching Pacquiao doing a high-octane sparring session against Fredrick Lawson and Liam Vaughan. For more than three hours this afternoon, Pacquiao was doing a workout routine only the very top and the very fit athletes can do. In the next three weeks, Pacquiao will have to increase the number of rounds for his sparrings and also increase the intensity of his workouts.
“Manny is doing his training schedule religiously,” Michael Koncz told me during dinner at Pacquiao's house later that evening where I was invited by the fighting congressman for a few games of chess. “He knows the importance of this fight and I have never seen him train as hard as this one,” Koncz added.
“We will rise again,” Pacquiao said as he arranged the chess pieces on the table. I threw the gauntlet to the man himself, reminding him of what he told me after his defeat to Morales, on whether he still has the hunger and determination in boxing.
“More,” he said.
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